Month: January 2016

Clearing the Cloud of Confusion

 

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“I got my own self by my side

And mentally we gotta be free

I see the wickedness coming full speed

But I hold together like the ball needs the seam

I’m trying to do something not nothing,

You’re trying to hold me back and that’s fine

Nothing you say or do is worth my time

Good day to you, I respectfully decline

And now I’m coming stronger than ever

You say I’m a fool I say whatever

I’m in it for the good vibes together

And the love lasts forever

No time for the wicked, If you’re in my line, I’m a go around the side and still bring it

Sky is the limit, Out of my way, You can’t get me down”

-Rebelution, “Sky is the Limit”

An unusually brisk, overcast morning befell us for what was a normally bright, sunny, and vibrant environment – even in late January – even in the cloudy, emotional wake of my recent relapse, where I came to, in the middle of the desert, in a motel somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, with virtually no clue of what, when, why or how this could have happened again. Other than finding out it had been a week since I checked in, the rest is and will remain a mystery other than what I learned about through third party accounts and following a rather confusing and nonsensical paper trail. This particular day, my treatment center had made arrangements for us to venture out on a hike; part of the physical aspect of resyncing mind, body, and spirit; in my case, a personal attempt to honestly harmonize them for the first time. The expedition started with a steady descent, accompanied by my latest rehab battalion, into one of a plentitude of canyons located along the Southern California coastline.

Almost immediately, I got the distinct feeling that this slide down into the foggy, gray canyon was metaphorically speaking to me; representing where my life plummeted to yet again by a series of bad decisions, disrespect for the power of this disease, and becoming complacent in my program (or lack thereof by this point); the seemingly never ending downward spiral that, when all is said and done, undeniably requires a decision to be made, if I even survive the whole ordeal in the first place. The first is to continue on downward; just give up altogether and succumb to the almighty power of Alcohol, slowly fade away into misery, despair, and ultimately concede to its mastery over me. The other, to admit defeat, fully surrender, and start the ever increasingly difficult backtracking; laboriously forcing myself into the uphill battle to regain some semblance of self-respect, dignity or, at the very least, an ability to look myself in the mirror without filth and disgust staring back at me.

At a certain point, we happened upon a fork in the trail; yes, a literal option to go one of two ways; not referring to a metaphorical, “fork in the road”, ladies and gentlemen. As a unit, we chose the way to proceed and our pilgrimage continued on to wherever it was we were going to end up. I’m rather confident in my belief that nobody really had any idea as to where this path led; we could have been marching towards the cult-like initiation ceremony featuring some insanely bizarre chanting and a human sacrifice for all I knew, but hey, wouldn’t that be quite the story to tell, huh? Fortunately, for whatever imaginary person being sacrificed for the, “greater good”, of some looney belief, we never came across such an event; I apologize to all you sicko’s out there for not having a tale of human sacrifice to share today.

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(The Abandoned Barn we Came Across)

After a while, a clearing in the forest presented itself; lingering fog remained settled in between the range of hills that towered over us. A strange sense of uneasiness flooded over me; like I was in the presence of something mysterious or experiencing an infrequent phenomena of sorts. Off to the left of the trail in the field was an old, abandoned barn surrounded by chain-link fence and topped with barbed wire; a spot where graffiti artists and taggers would come to create and express their art; a form of art that I have always found fascinating and different; an entire subculture devoted to it in fact – one of which I am not nearly knowledgeable enough or qualified to comment on, but I have met a few people and made some friends in recovery that were involved in the scene.  Whether it be considered criminal or not, in my opinion it’s one of the coolest and most creative ways to be rebellious if those were the cards you’ve been dealt as an individual. It was, however, also a place where junkies and alcoholics would come to become isolated from society, in the darkness, traveling through time and space with no purpose or direction – just a needle, a bottle or, perhaps both.

(A Glimpse Inside)

Amidst my fascination of this whole experience, which was starting to feel very spiritual and meaningful for me, I envisioned myself seeking shelter in a place like this if I continued down the path I’d been traveling; one of relapse after relapse – loss, loss, and more loss; pain, suffering, misery – to the point that, where from a societal and legal perspective, I’m technically homeless – the address on my driver’s license is that of my treatment facility’s main corporate office because I had nothing else to put; I’m no different from those folks hanging in that abandoned barn that suffer from what I suffer from, except in the cases where other serious mental illnesses are in the mix, of course. I went from living with my wife and kids in a household pulling in around $120,000 a year at one point, to being technically homeless, and it all happened pretty quick. I feel like I’m already living on borrowed time; time that is going to expire. I’ll be given no more chances to get it right; just a six-foot hole in the ground with a stone on the surface; name, dash, and some numbers; a dash that I really don’t want representing a life wasted or purposeless – but my fear and reality of the situation is that’s exactly where I’m headed if I don’t fully give myself to this thing called Recovery right now.

As we made our ascent from the canyon that day, rays of sunlight started piercing through the clouds, burning off the layer of fog down below; healing that dismal, gray environment. Coincidence? Maybe, but what I really believe is that the God of my understanding has been with me all along, and that day, was showing me He has not left my side and does not ever intend to, no matter what I do or how many times I fail, as long as I keep trying; I can’t say that about many people here on Earth, that’s for sure – at some point, most give up on me, or are embarrassed by me, or don’t want to acknowledge who it is I am in the interest of protecting their own interests or reputation and that’s just how other people are. I’ve made promises that I have not kept; there are those that have made promises to me that didn’t keep them, there were mutual promises made between myself and others – whether they were in the presence of God, of family, of friends, between friends or family, or even with employers. I guess in the end we are all just human and we all have our own struggles; I have to be okay with that – all I can really do is eventually clean up my side of the street and accept whatever it is that happens from there. The important part is that I have to be okay with me; with loving me. I have to be okay believing something, whether or not I call that something God, is bigger and greater than myself.

I threw my shades on and coasted the rest of the way back out of the canyon, enjoying the comforting warmth and essence of connecting with nature and feeling an authentic gratefulness to be alive.

Ridiculous Ramblings of a Return to Recovery

The familiar fragrance of burnt coffee intertwined with mildew and hundred-year old stale air most likely awaits me in the basement of Saint Whatever’s church I’m in attendance for that particular evening.  Being subjected to that environment is probably taking at least a few years off my life, but it’s a far better option than killing myself with this pesky alcoholism situation I’m dealing with – and let me get one thing straight right off the bat; In fact, it’s an item teetering on the fence in regards to making it on my fourth step resentments list.  I’d like to officially go on record proclaiming that, without hesitation, I will always, one-hundred percent of the time choose the scent of that grungy, infested basement with its old people smell and mildew ridden carpet over walking past a Hollister or an Abercrombie & Fitch; heinously pumping their fumes out into malls all across America.  I mean, come on – is that really necessary to force upon the innocent and unsuspecting casual shopper?  The answer is undeniably no, it’s not; it serves no purpose other than bringing about an instant headache; the doses of deadly gas and that atrocious “music” which immediately induces heart palpitations should be considered a public nuisance; so, with all that being said, I rest my case – for God sake judge and jury, please make them cut that shit out already; my entire wardrobe consists of Target’s Mossimo brand because of the ridiculous, arguably offensive business model they’ve come up with. 

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Okay, moving right along…At every one of these gatherings of the fellowship, I eagerly anticipate or at the very least fantasize about the fire company showing up due to a neighbor, random pedestrian, or driver filing a report of an immense amount of smoke coming from the vicinity; it’s as if we are amongst the morning mist while the dew slowly burns off by the fresh rays of sunlight, or trying to see through a heavy fog that recently rolled in off the ocean.  What can I say? That’s just how we roll.  As the smoke settles, the posse of my people from every age, race, creed, gender, societal status, and sexual orientation start to migrate towards the door and inside to the meeting, which involves a sort of daunting task of descending down a questionably sturdy staircase; we act and obey like cattle being rounded up and put away for the evening.  To add to the excitement, the line for a tiny cup of awful coffee has become longer than the soup kitchens on Thanksgiving; I guess that’s what those lunatics experience while camping out for seventeen days on the street; all so they can feel better about filling their own empty void of a life by being the first idiot to get the latest generation of iPhone, which is virtually no different than the generation preceding it; wow, the camera has two-hundred more mega-pixels – “my selfies are going to look soooo much better”, let’s camp out next to the Apple store so we can feel special for five minutes.  Go ahead tech-geeks, bring on your criticism and dislike for me, tell me all about the “awesome” differences and upgrades – I will warn you, however, you might as well be speaking Chinese to me; and listen up all you Chinese folks roaming the planet, I really enjoy your food, although it is kind of odd that it’s packaged and ready to go before I’m even done ordering.  I generally chalk it up to superb customer service, and my hat’s off to you – keep up the great work; on the other hand, I haven’t seen Mittens in a few days…I hope she wasn’t transformed into a delicious dish of “Orange Chicken”; hmmmm…but regardless of what may or may not have happened to Mittens, your language confuses the shit out of me; hence why I have no time or energy to appease or listen to some tech guru talking nonsensical jibber jabber into my face and attempting to convince me how it’s “so much better, dude…the flange capacitator runs on a dual-core integrated circuit which totally boosts the ISA, IRQ, and most importantly the Molex connectors, it’s really rad stuff bro – you should tote’s buy it” – Listen up, and listen good, I’m not your bro, I don’t say “rad”, and I especially don’t respond well to anybody who says “totes”.  I’m still Jersey raised through and through, even though I currently reside in California; furthermore, I have no clue what any of that shit you just spouted out at me even means; the phone I have now works just fine and suits all my needs, so go tell your bullshit to somebody who actually gives a shit – thanks and, in the respect of all the Chinese around the world, Chow.


As far as treatment centers go, I’ve been fortunate enough to land in what is essentially the five-star hotel of treatment centers – It doesn’t really get much more accommodating or comfortable in regards to rehabs unless of course your rich or famous enough to get admitted into Passages Malibu; although on the flip side, that place is more of a vacation resort or spa, rather than any real sort of actual treatment center, AND, they’re big claim to fame is that they can cure your addiction altogether; like literally take the disease out of your brain; when you leave, they undeniably tell you that you are cured and you’ll never drink or drug again – doesn’t matter if you spent thirty days there or a year (if you happen not to believe me, check out this article on the LA Weekly website: LA Weekly: Passages Malibu  I would gather that most of us have seen the commercial on television by now where CEO, Pax Prentiss, states that he was once an addict and now he’s not, placing a large emphasis on the fact that their facility is not a twelve step program; perhaps they have magical fairy dust, who knows – the rest of us, who exist the real world, understand that once an addict, always an addict; we’re never cured of this disease – it’s just the way we are wired and it comes down to pushing it into remission through treating it just like any other disease.  Diabetes = Insulin shots, Cancer = chemo or radiation therapy; drugs and alcohol = the fellowships of AA, NA, therapy and working some type of program towards recovery, not towards relapse.  That’s our medicine, and when folks want to stay healthy, it’s important to take your meds.  Anyway, the treatment program that I’m involved in does a relatively good job at providing comfort and stressing the importance of not only a mentally and spiritually healthy life, but a physically healthy lifestyle as well, such as going to the gym regularly and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

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(I’m fairly certain the face on that little fella is one of confusion)

My Rehab, among offering a variety of relatively healthy snacks, also provides popsicles; and who doesn’t love a good popsicle from time to time; seems rather harmless right?  Wrong!  Now let me explain why.  These particular popsicles have two, (yes I can count, and I shall repeat), two of those wooden stick handles protruding from the bottom of one, that’s right – one mass of frozen, deliciousness.  First of all, I don’t even know which one I’m supposed to hold on to while enjoying this delicious treat, or if maybe this is supposed to be some sort of a two-handed ordeal.  Second, at some point during the enjoyment of said delicious, frozen treat, the popsicle begins to melt a bit and breaks apart, spilling out both tiny and large pieces of ice all over the floor, your clothes and anything else that is in the general vicinity, all the while, you just stand or sit there looking stupid with two wooden sticks in your hands – with the red ones, I feel like I’m obligated to call in a forensic crime team to analyze what appears like blood splatter, or better yet, give Dexter a holler.  The whole idea of two sticks on one popsicle really threw me for a loop and genuinely confused me.  I’m admittedly the last person who has a desire to get the annoying, “Special Interest” groups involved in anything, but where are all the damn tree huggers when there’s actually something legitimate to protest – the pointless wasting and misuse of popsicle sticks all over America.

Obviously, it would appear I’m going through a bit of an irritable stage right now; a vast emotional roller coaster if you will – the most random and stupid things seem like cataclysmic life events.  The head and brain doctor’s say it’s normal so that’s good, right?  I mean I imagine they didn’t spend all those years in medical school collaborating as to the reasoning behind two-handled popsicles; plus, it’s not like this is my first rodeo – I know how it goes, although each time coming back from ever increasingly horrific benders, the mood swings and frustration seem to intensify a bit.  So there you have it ladies and gentlemen – that’s where I’m at with five sober days under my belt.

Selfishly Sinful Sexcapades

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Alienation and seclusion fill the atmosphere of the dilapidated, trashy motel room that I rented for thirty dollars a night – you know, the kind of venue where the most perverted, sketchy, and sleazy type of hustle takes place; where they still provide the old school, bulky box televisions with eight channels to choose from and it’s questionable whether or not the sheets and comforter have been washed or switched out at any point in the last decade – an ambience anywhere from drug dealers lingering in the vicinity, tons of the public intoxicated roaming aimlessly in a delirious state, folks displaced from their homes for whatever reason, a homeless guy sleeping behind the dumpster who, periodically, contorts back to life and rummages through the trash to recover morsels of malodorous scraps to eat, merely for survival – the list goes on in regards to the bewildered slew of characters that seek shelter in such a place; including myself.  To a certain extent, I feel like it’s the sort of place I find comfort in; belong in for all the hurt and heartache I’ve caused over the years – like I’m subconsciously punishing myself; it’s chaotic; unpredictable; a collection of the mentally deranged.  However, the loneliness of this unplanned solo mission starts to creep in while the liquor now flows steadily throughout my veins – but not too much just yet, I have plans formulating in my head that I can’t be too intoxicated to carry out, I’m suddenly Darth Vader crossing over to the dark side; hand me a red light saber because this sinister party is about to get started. 

My mind is increasingly becoming fixated on an issue I should have accepted long ago; yet another addiction to supplement all the others in my fucked up arsenal of squalor; this is acceptance of a sex addiction that has begun to compound all the other problems in my life; it’s a relatively new problem, however, because I was married for about 4 years or so and in a long term relationship before that.  The sheer fact that being a cheater or committing adultery not being a part of who I am is astonishing, considering my track record, to say the least; it’s one thing I never took part in and can’t see myself ever doing –  I’m the faithful type with my only mistress being, yup, you guessed it – alcohol, which in all reality was probably more debilitating to my marriage than having an actual woman on the side.  So now that I’m single and my needs as a man still need validation, I embarked into a world I’ve never traversed before: leading women on with false intentions; preying on vulnerable girls in early recovery (for those in the program, we commonly refer to this as the thirteenth step); I have even resorted to paying prostitutes and started watching excessive amounts of pornography. 

Then there is the nefarious nature of Craigslist that comes into play, which undoubtedly functions as the world’s most popular internet flea market; a haven where one person’s garbage becomes somebody else’s treasure; there is virtually nothing that cannot be acquired through its assortment of options, opportunities, and services.  In fact, I’ve been able to pull off anything from purchasing toys and furniture for my kids to searching out employment to finding hookers that fulfil all my sexual fantasies and desires – it certifiably exemplifies the nature of the wild, wild west.  Staying true to my inner most being, I impulsively scroll through the “casual encounters” section which might as well be called, “here’s where the hookers are”; everybody knows that’s what it’s there for anyway, but for legality sake, I assume “casual encounters” keeps the site from running into any criminal issues or law suits.  I finally find the girl I want, click her ad, get a response, and begin the waiting game as I pour one more drink down my throat to relax me a bit.

Anticipation rapidly sets in.  I’m fairly certain my heart would be pounding if not for the couple drinks I consumed; instead I feel calm and relaxed, yet becoming increasingly impatient at this point – eagerly waiting to hear a knock at the door.  On a side note, when engaged in this type of activity, there’s always a part of me that believes I am about to get caught up in a sting operation being filmed for a TV show featured on a channel like A&E, TruTV or any other number of channels that broadcast trash like that for Americans to eat up and feel better about their own situations.  Be that as it may and as maniacal as it seems, the risk of that possibility adds to the thrill and excitement of the whole experience.  I’m sick, let’s not forget that minor detail, but I’m frivolously working on it.  

After what felt like an eternity, the knock at the door finally echoes throughout the motel room; the moment has arrived, and I couldn’t be more ready. I answer and my excitement instantaneously strengthens because it’s actually the girl from the picture in the ad I inquired about – she looked like the “girl next door”, but clearly something, somewhere went drastically wrong in her life to end up as a call girl, or maybe this was simply her solution to get herself through college and she likes sex – I don’t judge, but the probability that the gal is different from the picture is always another risk when ordering these particular services, albeit very minor in comparison to having my face plastered all over national television for soliciting.  Business before pleasure; generally, that’s how it goes down, but actually handing money directly to the girl is a big no no.  Financial details are worked out in advance using code words and phrases, such as “So, your grandfather is about to turn 100? Hour by hour he must have hung onto life with great resilience”.  This is deciphered as the service for my particular needs are going to cost $100 per hour.  The protocol is to leave the money somewhere on desk or night stand and state that a “donation” is over there on the desk for her if she would like it.  After “donations” are handled, the fun begins.

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The evil temptress is about to go to work; I lay on the bed.  She begins to perform a slow and erotic striptease; eyes locked onto mine as she slowly unzips her jeans and starts to slide them down, just far enough so I can gaze at the tiny thong she is wearing underneath.  My mind is quickly transforming into that of a wild animal; ready to pounce, but the build-up is proving to be entirely worth the wait so I sit still and enjoy the show being performed just for me.  Button by button, her shirt gradually opens, exposing her breasts enclosed inside a bra; slender curves in all the right places; a midriff so toned and flat I could balance a thousand plates on it; before I know it the shirt is on the floor and, simultaneously she kicks off her heals.  She’s moving closer to the bed, all the while losing her jeans in the process – I’m convinced I’m absolutely in the presence of and admiring pure perfection of the female form; lust in me intensifies immensely.  Now in only a bra and panties, she leans over and in the sexiest voice whispers in my ear, ”now let’s take care of you honey”.  Beginning to rub me wear the sun don’t shine, she undoes my belt and gets my jeans off – needless to say, I’m pitching quite the tent in my boxers at this juncture.  She grabs my boner over the boxers and asks if I enjoy oral sex.  My initial thought was, excuse me? Does not every guy love to receive a blow job?  What actually came out of my mouth was a simple, “yes”.  Off came my boxers, exposing a full, rock hard erection and before I could think another twisted or perverted thought, she had her lips wrapped around it, treating my penis as if it were the last popsicle left in the world; savoring it; slow and steady; applying the perfect amount of pressure and no infraction of her teeth; acting as though she absolutely loved sucking on it.  Pure bliss. 

I gently held her hair back so I could have a full view as she satisfied my lustful desires, giving equal attention to both my twig and my berries, which, in most instances, the poor, poor berries get neglected – but not this day.  While wrapping up her magnificent blow job (I kind of wanted to give her a high five for such a well done job), she reaches behind her back and undoes her bra-strap, all the while finishing up the blow job.  Her breasts are perfect, not too small and not too big; perky and erect.  The last thing to disappear from her body was her panties and she subsequently jumped on the bed with me; allowing me to lustfully gaze at her in all her glory.  After rolling the condom on, she gets on her back and commands me to enter with a sexy gusto in her voice; I enthusiastically obliged her request; such a wet and warm environment as I penetrate her; she moans and talks dirty to me during the entire session; phenomenal sex with a climax that was one for the record books – this girl was a true professional at what she did.  Afterwards, she cleaned herself up, got dressed, and left; I was alone once again; $100 poorer, re-imagining the meaningless and emotionless sex, and pouring myself another (much larger) drink in this dilapidated, trashy motel.

Crash & Burn, Cunning, Baffling & Powerful

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PERSONAL EXPERIENCES IN HOSPITALS & INSTITUTIONS

As I drew my inaugural breath; when I opened my infant eyes to this world for the first time, a lifetime of choices were waiting for me right outside the comfort of that cozy hospital crib.  Seasons of situations and experiences; times of triumph and heartbreak; trials and tribulation.  I’d apprehensively take my first steps and laboriously mumble my first words.  I’d learn the fundamentals of what it is to be human – the basic needs for survival.  Entering into adolescence, I’d trifle in fierce games of stick ball, encounter awkward first kisses, and of course, experimentally learn all my lessons the hard way. I would expect myself to power through all the failures to subsequently reap the benefits of my successes; at whatever questionable cost they were attained or achieved.  I’d lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate to make situations or outcomes turn in my favor, with nobody knowing the wiser – and it worked; up to a certain point – but the endurance of a lifestyle carrying on in that fashion would eventually start to catch up and soon, it would shine bright in the spotlight, pardoned and exposed in all its fictitious glory.  Breath-taking views would one day be seen from the peak tops as well as a hopeless sense of no return felt in the valleys far below; it’s the roller coaster of life, and mine would prove to be a rather extreme version of such a ride. 

Somewhere during the course of being that carefree kid, playing ball and running wild, I grew into adulthood.  Seemingly overnight, the awkward first kisses, hard lessons learned, and fierce stick ball games with buddies transformed into a slew of dilemmas resulting from a detrimental, yet enchanting love affair with substance abuse, alcohol in particular.  My ultimate escape; my rock and my comfort – a friend who was always there in my times of need no matter what the circumstances.  A means in which I did not have to be present for my life anymore; a way to numb out all the anguish and torment and disappointment that came along with being me.  I can’t pin point exactly when it all changed, but I used to do fun things like spend days at Six Flags, or go bowling or camping and enjoying an honest and real good time with my friends.  I used to go on family vacations to see the great American sights like Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, The Devil’s Tower, the Petrified Forest, and the Grand Canyon.  We even cruised to Bermuda, twice, with Royal Caribbean Cruise Liners.  Those are all but distant memories.  Now, my “vacations” are far less exciting – in fact my very life hangs in the balance if I don’t set sail and embark on them.  The following is a condensed list of my new “vacations” over the last six years, starting at the age of 24:

  1. 2010, Carrier Clinic Detox Center – 10 day detox
  2. 2010, High Focus Centers 90-Day IOP Program – Outpatient
  3. 2011, Riverview Medical Psych Ward – 10 Day observation & detox (following an attempted suicide)
  4. 2011, Carrier Clinic Detox Center – Round 2 – 10 day detox
  5. 2011, Archstone Recovery Center, 60-Day Treatment Program in Del Ray Beach, FL
  6. 2012, High Focus Centers 90-Day IOP Program – Outpatient – Round 2
  7. 2013, Hospitalization Overnight (severe intoxication) (frequent occurrences that year so I won’t list all)
  8. 2014, Hospitalization Overnight (severe intoxication) (frequent occurrences that year so I won’t list all, again)
  9. 2015, Carrier Clinic Detox Center (Again) 10 day detox
  10. 2015, Solid Landings, Rock Solid 90-Day Treatment Program – Episode 1
  11. 2015, Solid Landings, Rock Solid 90-Day Treatment Program – Episode 2
  12. 2015, Solid Landings, Rock Solid 90-Day Treatment Program – Episode 3
  13. 2016, Solid Landings, Long Beach Recovery – Currently Attending – Episode 4

Looking back and seeing how the scope of how my “vacations” have really shifted in a negative fashion from luxury, enjoyment, relaxation, and adventure to being consistently institutionalized – the questions become: “Why does it always go wrong? What am I missing? What am I not doing? Why do I always find myself in the back of a police cruiser or in a dark, grungy motel room with questionable women, or spending time and time again in hospitals and treatment centers?”

WHAT DID I MISS OR NOT TAKE AWAY FROM FORMER TREATMENTS?

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For starters, I’m about as stubborn as they come in regards to taking or following suggestions that would serve my greater good, integrate some integrity – infuse responsibility; suggestions that have helped millions of people like myself recover from this insidious disease of alcoholism – or at least keep it in remission.  I automatically shift into the mind set of finding a better way to do it myself – Chris’s way; in a nutshell, apply the “program of me” – I’ve been labeled heartless, cruel, and a selfish narcissist over the years, (mostly by various ex-girlfriends, wife, co-workers, employers).  I tend to believe I’m smarter or more clever than everyone else because I’ve always eluded catching a case or I have the ability to finagle my way out of a jam – I don’t have a DUI although I drove under the influence on a daily basis and I’ve never served a prison sentence, although there are too many reasons to list as to why I should have, some of which keep me up at night.  The only prison term I serve is on a daily basis, in my head, being tortured and shackled to a disease that never lets up – and it virtually won’t until it kills me.  Maybe I’m lucky, quite possibly some power greater than myself has been working overtime in safeguarding me from what could be.  For the things I’ve done and situations I’ve subjected myself and others to, I should categorically be locked away in a cell somewhere for the rest of my days.  God forbid I implement some honesty, open-mindedness, or willingness to actually make changes deep down in the core of my being, not just put on a fabricated happy face, wear a mask of comedic deflection, give all the legitimate rehab answers and coast my way through convincing everybody things are going great; that I’m a “model of recovery” or an “upstanding American citizen” –  well guess what, I’m not any of those things, it’s just a façade that I forged for myself over the years – the wife, the kids, the house, the career, the cars, and the goddam white picket fence.  From the outside looking in, I was a model citizen – young and successful, but in the end all I did was provide a disservice to everything and everyone that unknowingly crossed my ill-intentioned path – like I’m a slithering serpent in the night, an undetectable cancer to society at large.  It’s drinking rat poison and waiting for the other guy to die so I can conquer and rule all, my way – The Land According to Chris.  There’s no logic there, it makes no sense, it’s a false reality, a fantasy formulated in a sick mind, and the express train into an early grave – that’s all.  I’ve neglected a lot of what I need to be doing in these treatment centers.  The following items are what I failed to authentically grasp in all my previous attempts at rehabilitation:

  1. Form a solid and ongoing relationship with a sponsor. I always randomly chose someone just to say I had a sponsor, but never worked with one because of an intense fear to leave my comfort zone or call another grown man all the time and tell him about how my day went – it feels unpleasant and strange and weird.
  2. Keep or form an actual solid support network of sober friends in the program. Eventually, I always pull away and isolate from them and their support because I start to develop an alternative agenda in my head – I’d never share or be open about myself at meetings when these thoughts start to surface.
  3. I never did any serious, heart wrenching or life-saving step work – I’d just cycle through steps 1, 2, & 3 over and over again afraid to move forward in the process – occasionally I’d pen a half-assed 4th Step.
  4. I couldn’t come to grips with the fact that other people, (AKA: therapists, counselors, sponsors, support staff, program managers, directors, doctors, psychiatrists, etc…) cannot fix me FOR me; or I just plain and simply wanted a pill to fix all my problems instead of actually taking a hard and grueling look at myself, facing the facts, and genuinely putting in the hard work.
  5. I never, ever followed up with any of my discharge planning. No aftercare doctor’s appointments to continue medication, no continuance in therapy to stay on track or keep progressing, stoppage of all attendance at meetings, etc… – which ultimately led to a lot of free time and boredom; then boredom led to depression, which inevitably led to picking up the bottle once more to escape my life that had once again become seemingly unbearable to live in.
  6. I lost that sustained sense of urgency that my life depended on taking sobriety seriously every single day, one day at a time. I simply forget or block out how bad it gets out there in active use, telling myself, “one won’t kill me” or “it really wasn’t that bad”.
  7. Women are my absolute kryptonite; my ultimate distraction – and I crave their validation of me as a man. Chasing after them is just like chasing after a bottle – it gets me out of myself and completely takes my focus away from handling the issues of life as they need to be handled – I could spend hours on Tinder, MeetMe, Plenty of Fish, and any other app I could find on the matter – it became a whole new addiction in itself, it was fun, mysterious, and exciting to finally meet the girl I had been talking to – most of all, it was an instantaneous internet ego-boost.
  8. I never fully tried to get sober for myself. I wanted to get sober for my wife (future ex-wife).  I wanted to get sober for my children.  I wanted to get it for my employer, the rest of my family, my friends, and even my damn dog, but it was invariably all for not – everything I built and every relationship I nurtured has been taken from my life; the way things were are long gone and now, I tote around a red suit case from recovery house to recovery house in Southern California wondering why and how I could have let things get to this point.  It’s becoming verifiably clear that the only person I can actually get sober for is me, which I could never fully subscribe to in any previous attempt.  If I can do that, just do this thing for myself, honestly and truthfully, I can hold out faith that everyone might benefit in the process and just maybe I can start putting some of the pieces back together that I so carelessly smashed into millions.

THE RELAPSE SCENARIO AND AND HOW IT HAPPENS:

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It’s happening again; the routine hostile takeover that seizes rationality and aspires to exile me back down, flailing into the abyss.  I sense being singled-out and alone – that I’ll always be alone; the redundant ride on this merry-go-round is starting to throw me for a loop, planting seeds of doubt that this is ever going to get any easier; questions of whether or not I can endure resisting it’s unreal refuge, day in and day out, until I draw my final breath; questioning if I even want to – it can seem, at times, like I’m fighting a predetermined war; one that won’t and cannot be ruled in my favor. 

I wake up, hung-over, walk into my living room and peer out the window through drawn shades. The outside world is blinding.  I can hardly stand it.  I yearn for nothing to exist beyond the walls that contain me.  The resonating sound of kids laughing, birds chirping, and neighbors starting their day is nauseating.  I don’t comprehend their utterly jovial and positive perspective on the world – so I stand there and secretly loathe them from within the confines of my home.  I spot my car parked in the driveway.  It’s present and doesn’t appear to have any new battle scars; a tiny wave of relief washes over me – one major catastrophe favorably avoided.  I turn my attention away from the window and to the status within the home.  There’s an open pizza box on the coffee table full of partially bitten slices – one appears to have escaped and lies wounded, face down in the rug; cheese meshed into the fabric and one lone pepperoni sits lifeless and inanimate. Wedged in between the couch and coffee table are bottles of Jack Daniels in a sad, shallow grave.  No doubt each one had been drained of its life; no doubt they fought valiantly in a battle they would never win – submitting in order to my wraith like so many before them. 

Amidst the chaotic scene sits my baby girl innocently watching cartoons.  She looks over at me with nothing but unconditional love and acknowledges my presence with a sincere, “Hi Daddy”, in a soft, angelic voice; not aware of what the contents or condition of our living room really means.   I was irrefutably convinced that after I spawned a child I would go to the end of the earth to stay sober – if anything in this world could motivate me to live an honest and productive life, it would be my children, and for a short time it appeared to be enough.  But I quickly found myself drowning in the bottle once again and questioning everything I thought I wanted for myself, and for my family.  I was again defeated; broken; I folded faster than a seven-deuce to an affliction that hijacked my psyche so many years ago.   I could honestly think of nothing else that would keep me from continuing on this road destined for calamity.  I tossed around the idea that it would be in everybody’s greater interest for me to go down alone, rather than hold them hostage and forever anchored to my sinking ship.  They would at least have a fighting chance for survival should they separate from my plague of dysfunction and false reality.  Why does this happen?  Why do I relapse time and time again?  I had and still could have so much to live for.  The following items are the best answers I can think up in regards to these fleeting questions.

  1. I habitually slip away from and finally altogether abandon my program of recovery and AA as a whole – I get easily distracted and caught up with women, work, money, sports, television, movies, etc…
  2. Major stress from various life situations: marriage, kid’s needs, mortgage payments, rent payments, paying other various bills on time, my family, my in-laws, employment in a stressful occupation, keeping the house running as smooth as possible and as safe for the kids as possible.
  3. Major stress from newer various life situations: going through the divorce process I never wanted, selling my house by force to avoid foreclosure, resignation from my 10-year career, finding new employment in California, lost contact and custody of my daughter to my ex-wife, lost contact with my son, constantly in and out of treatment facilities, inability to be self-sustaining, selling the car I just paid off, medical bills adding up, collection agencies always calling, insurance company issues across the board, etc…
  4. I vehemently crave an escape from the daily grind of everyday life, especially when things aren’t going my way. The overwhelming desire not to be present for this life takes hostage of my brain.
  5. Random thoughts and attacks from the disease: fear of failure, fear of success, feeling of I’m getting what I deserved for everything I’ve done, feeling that I’ll never be good enough, feeling like everybody I love will be safer and better off with me at a distance or out of their lives completely.
  6. And sometimes…it just hits me out of nowhere and I’m coming-to a week later dazed and confused.

HOW ARE THINGS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT?

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I have a lot riding on my ability to pull it together and make something of myself – for real; not pretending to be a productive member of society with all my covert cover-ups and alternative agendas.  I don’t understand why it’s so arduous to be authentic or genuine about living, but for me it is.  I attribute some of this to the emotional mood swings I still encounter, anywhere from depressed and unmotivated to waking up ready to take on the world.  I credit portions of it to my lack of trust and dislike for the human race in general.  I associate other elements to the mere fact that I live with the disease of alcoholism and it comes with the territory.  It gets complicated to be consistent when all this is taking place in my head.  A large portion of the time I feel like I have lost it all, like I have nothing left to lose, there’s no reason to carry on, and I’m going to die miserable and alone, but deep down I know that doesn’t have to be the case at all.  Don’t get me wrong, I have given up a lot in my pursuit of successful drinking, but not everything; many of which can be fixed with time and effort and working hard to regain the trust that I gave away.  In essence, everything I have to gain is, in itself, everything I have to lose. 

On the other hand, there’s so much hate that we’re forced to dodge and weave through on a daily basis; so much out of our control.  Flip on the news and get a glimpse of what the human mind is attracted to.  Death and despair – murders, rapes, kid-touchers, mass shootings; the list goes on – and it’s all wretched and evil – we’re essentially a modern age Sodom and Gomorrah; maybe worse.  A good excuse for me; a portion of why I could justify and entertain the desire not to be present in this life; drown in the bottle until my time is up; until I check out of this hedonistic place.  Maybe I like to drown in it because there are certain facets of that negativity I see in myself; characteristics I wish weren’t there – the parts that continuously break the hearts of people around me as I let them down once more; the parts where I let myself down.  Or maybe by working through this process, not running or hiding, and getting to know myself without a drink or a drug, I can learn how to see through the fog, through the mist, and see the faint beauty in all things wicked and cruel – if there’s a seed, some day a magnificent flower might bloom.  So, besides trying to open my mind up to new perspectives on life in general, what tangible things are going to be different this time around?

  1. I’m going to give it a rest chasing after women, including all dating apps such as Tinder, MeetMe, Plenty of Fish (POF), etc… and the temptation of the 13th Step at 12-step meetings. No relationships, no hook-ups, nothing; I’m taking a temporary vow of abstinence until I get myself in a much better mental space – until I can love myself, I can’t truly love anybody else.
  2. Continue to grow and embrace a stronger friendship and co-parenting relationship with my ex-wife in the best interest of our children and also in the best interest for the healing health for both of us and what we have been through together.
  3. Find and stick with a good sponsor – which means regular check-ins, step work, and following all his suggestions.
  4. Find a home group and get a commitment as soon as possible – accountability.
  5. Stop giving in to my isolation tendencies: check in regularly with family back east and don’t disconnect from my friends in sobriety right here because all those things will provide another excellent source of accountability.
  6. Be 100% honest with myself, tell on myself if I feel a certain way, don’t act on impulse or be compulsive, get a second opinion from someone I trust before I do anything stupid…because I sure as shit can’t trust myself.

As an alcoholic, I walk a narrow path.  Yet I keep my head held high and although many fall away into the night, I carry on and do my best to stay focused on the faint glow of promises that penetrate the horizon.  There is, no doubt, a war being waged. This war is never ending and will ultimately be determined by the battles along the way – the major conflicts; the most minuscule scuffle and every bit of dissension and strife in between.  It’s a vital measure of my craving to exist; to experience, not just be physically present.  I’ve always been looking for the answer, but forgetting to enjoy the ride.  The greatest conclusion I have come to on this journey so far is that maybe not everything in life has a concrete answer; maybe I can draw the same results in two totally different ways.  Quite possibly, just living in the moment at hand is enough; observing my surroundings; connecting with them.  I breathe the miracle of life into my consciousness and pray to let it cleanse me of all the guilt and shame of my past; I ask God for forgiveness of my evil ways and twisted mind.  It can no longer hold me captive or keep me gasping for air. The sun shines through its most valiant bursts of light after the darkest part of the storm, and I really want to see that light; in fact, I’m going to see it – or at least I’ll die trying – but I’ll never give up.

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RELAPSE: A Seemingling Endless Path to Recover

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I’ve relished in the glory of recovery – capitalized on the very power of its opportunities, with the general public always hoping folks like me will rehabilitate and become contributing members of society right off the bat; saying things like, “Why can’t you just stop?” or “Just have one or two drinks instead of twenty” – but it feels like my duty is to embrace the comforting attitude that everything is going to be okay – even when it’s not; stuff it down and act like a man.  I begin to feel like I’m involved in the business of false promises; that I can hold it together for a while, feel accomplished and motivated – then one, and I mean ONE random second of penetrated defenses it all comes crashing down. I would like to think it’s as easy as giving in and changing everything about who I am, but it’s not. I am who I am – broken, just banish me off to the Island of Misfit Toys; I’m the epitome of powerless and absolutely my own worse enemy, a drunk that has had such a difficult time learning the ways of living without the security of that ever so soothing drink. I possess such self-hatred because I have to take ownership of that powerlessness, and the public that has petitioned to change my personality because that is what some professionals are trained to do – make me “normal”.  Mostly the ones who don’t understand what it’s actually like waking up with this hanging over me; a dark and stormy cloud that spoils the sunny days – change the God given consciousness I was born with, even if I am different than most.  Stay tuned for my explanation of why…I got drunk…and woke up a week later knowing virtually nothing of what took place, what I did, or how I got there.

This is the darker side of alcoholism…when it awakens and becomes active once more…

 

Extreme Takeover: Alone Edition

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It’s happening again; the routine hostile takeover that seizes rationality and aspires to exile me back down, flailing into the abyss.  I sense being singled-out and alone – that I’ll always be alone; the redundant ride on this merry-go-round is starting to throw me for a loop, planting seeds of doubt that this is ever going to get any easier; questions of whether or not I can endure resisting its unreal refuge, day in and day out, until I draw my final breath; questioning if I even want to – it can seem at times like I’m fighting an already decided war.  I want for “normal” folks to understand what it’s like; what I go through; how addicts and alcoholics don’t want to be trapped in this fight that can feel unwinnable, that I didn’t ask for this anymore than a diabetic asked for unbalanced blood sugar; how there is no intention to hurt the people I love; how to explain something that most people don’t want an explanation for.  The stigma is already in place; the idea that I can just “use some self-control” and “stop being weak” is a widely believed theory amongst the general population – that theory is wrong.

Taking a leap of faith to surrender, seek help, and regain the power of choice to live a fulfilled life, however, is my responsibility as an alcoholic; just as any other ailing person would seek a remedy – that’s where the real strength actually lives; it’s why using the disease concept as a scapegoat not to get better is no excuse; it’s not an acceptable reason to keep falling down the same rabbit hole over and over again – help is out there, but it must be sought, and I can’t do it alone.  It takes hard work and willingness; there are no shortcuts; shortcuts inevitably pave the way right back to active use – no way around it – the addicts in recovery that go back out tried to beat the system – I know because I’ve been there; a multiple time offender in fact.  Active addiction demands my undivided attention, it doesn’t donate towards a luxurious life; it strips the lovability and integrity that used to support a foundation of character; of responsibility and motivation and that internal drive to attain greatness – all that can be restored, but again, it must be sought – and it’s not at all easy.


I envision my average morning routine; the tantalizing aroma of fresh brewed coffee spilling over me, rejuvenated and renewed from a healthy night’s sleep.  As I stretch out and open my eyes to a new day, I take in a deep breath of the cool breeze filtering from an open window; fresh, crisp air mixed with the smell of coffee is heavenly; I can immediately sense a great day is in store.  Tropical tempered water collaborates with the pleasant scent of mountain springs body wash and runs down my body producing a cleansing, muscle relaxing massage; everything I have to accomplish during the day ahead temporarily disappears as the surge of hot water cascades over me; sending me into a meditative trance that soothes mind, body, and soul – time is no longer of the essence.

I enter into in a staring contest with myself; the image in the mirror looks and feels confident; everything fits – pants, shirt, and shoes mesh together like they were designed solely for each other – every hair on my head shaped and in place; it’s all coming together perfectly this particular morning – reminds me that life can be enjoyed.  Stimulating music streams into my ears from stereo speakers as I turn the ignition.  Throwing on my shades, I open the sun roof and allow beams of daylight from another gorgeous SoCal morning splash over me – I’m ready to go.  I hit the main drag; cruising along now; everybody else parading around and starting their day as well – this town is alive.  Intersection after intersection, green lights glimmer in my favor, like I timed the drive accordingly.  I look to my left; children play in the park before school; their innocence; their lack of total understanding for this world; I think back to when I was sheltered inside that comfortable bubble; I think about my own kids and what they’re doing right at this moment – I think of how happy it makes me that they can just be kids; worry free to enjoy the simplicity of their world – I envy them for that same reason.

Glancing ahead of me, the road is wide open; a rarity opposed to the normal bumper to bumper traffic, so I lay on the gas a little more as I come up on the next intersection; green light; the exhilaration of freedom anesthetizes my consciousness, I feel light, unconquerable; nothing could take me down from this natural high – the daydream image of this fantasyland where seas part in my presence and I am “ruler of all” is mesmerizing, but swiftly met by the sound of screeching tires, shards of broken glass, bent and twisted metal, sirens echoing with flashing lights dancing around the surrounding area…feeling weak…fade to black…darkness.

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Blindsided; another driver runs a red light, turning my seemingly perfect morning into a life-halting catastrophe – in a split second.  That’s what it’s like; that’s the hostile takeover that occurs when the desire to indulge in a drink floods over me – just like that; out of nowhere and virtually impossible to defend unless premeasures are taken daily; essentially constructing a force field against random and unrelenting attacks from any and every direction.  To clarify, this car accident scenario has not actually happened to me, but it’s a way in which I can portray the devious and ever-surprising nature of addiction in its rawest form; that maybe a person who does not understand the addicted mind could possibly place themselves in my shoes and see things from an inside perspective – of course, there will always be the folks, like I stated earlier, that don’t want an explanation and no matter what the evidence suggests, will never buy into the disease concept of it anyway.  For that, I practice acceptance and understand that what other people think; the opinions floating around out there are just that: opinions – everybody is entitled to have them, and it doesn’t change anything in regards to what I have to do on a daily basis to get and stay sober, recovered, and free.

Everything to Lose, Everything to Gain

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Like most addicts, I thrive in the chaotic – when anarchy runs rampant in my life, there is no room for complacency and I’m abnormally in my most elite state to produce my finest work; it keeps me on my toes – being backed into a corner forces my hand and I have no choice but to fight my way out.  It really doesn’t make sense because I’m a self-appointed perfectionist and I feel the overwhelming desire to keep everything around me neat and organized; maybe that’s the difference between my internal and external struggle.  And when I say, “produce my finest work” however, it does come at a price – to me and to those around me.  I’m much like a salmon swimming upstream – if I’m not struggling against something; if I don’t have a jam to get myself out of or some problem to figure out, I feel very uncomfortable; teetering on unnatural.  Existing free of the chaos seems extremely daunting, almost like, what’s the point?  It comes across as dull and monotonous; waking up and putting on a suit to contribute to corporate America everyday plays out like a sick and twisted nightmare in my mind; traffic during the commute to and from, sitting in a box all day, a thousand phones going bananas, answering to a boss, the pointless, petty and unavoidable conversations with co-workers or clients – yuck – much worse than being isolated in a grungy, dark motel room with mirrored walls, a bedbug infestation, accompanied by a questionable chick from backpage, and indulging in a bottle of the cheapest whiskey I can find.  Yes, I’ve been there, but that’s a story for another day.

Having everything to lose and everything to gain is, to say the least, a discomforting place to find myself floating around in aimlessly.  Nowadays I hop on board this intense emotional roller coaster which can most certainly be attributed to the fact that I have no clue who I am or how to “do life” the “right” way at the ripening age of thirty; and for anybody that claims thirty is young and there is plenty of time – I call bullshit, sorry.  For all intents and purposes I’m middle aged now and I have merely coasted through life up to this point, mostly on a combination of luck and the ability to scheme, manipulate, or bargain my way through it all; essentially my motto or personal mission statement has been, “fly under the radar” with a side of “blend in”.  Unfortunately for me, radar technology has advanced a bit since I started on this quest, which has left me and my undomesticated ways detected and exposed.  Either I really need to get better at maneuvering around detection or actually pursue a way to start living with some class, honesty, and integrity.

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The easiest explanation of my logic to successful living could be seen through the lens of how I handled finances; all in two simple steps.  I started by ranking bills and financial obligations in order of importance.  Then, I initiated the juggling act – that’s it.  In theory it appeared very simple, but it actually took more time and energy while inducing more stress than just doing things the “traditional” or “responsible” way.  And it’s not like I wasn’t earning enough money to cover all my bills comfortably, but when the means to purchase alcohol was essentially as important as breathing, it was the only way to manage the lifestyle.  Rent or mortgage payments were always atop the list and, even in my warped sense of logic, must have been paid every month and relatively on time.  At least an address saved me from living in my car or on the streets – even if there were none of the luxuries like electricity, natural gas, internet, cable, etc.…I needed my personal space and accommodations to enjoy the ever-occurring blackouts that took place there.  On the other hand, through time and experience, I had essentially solved the puzzle of the various service providers and how far each could be pushed before a shut off.  My completely unscientific and erratic formula, which existed only in my head, enabled me to always keep all utilities on and functioning – in my mind that was a win.  “Last month I paid electric so I’m good with them for a while, this month I’ll pay the gas company” and so on.  The most difficult part was keeping track of how long it had been since a payment was made to any given company or service, but as long as I organized the bills and stayed on top of things, it was no problem.  I admittedly viewed myself as doing well and functioning responsibly.  Welcome to the mind of an alcoholic.

I have a lot riding on my ability to pull it together and make something of myself – for real; not pretending to be a productive member of society with all my covert cover-ups and alternative agendas.  I don’t understand why it’s so arduous to be authentic or genuine about living, but for me it is.  I attribute some of this to the emotional mood swings I still encounter, anywhere from depressed and unmotivated to waking up ready to take on the world.  I credit portions of it to my lack of trust and dislike for the human race.  I associate other elements to the mere fact that I live with the disease of alcoholism and it comes with the territory.  It gets complicated to be consistent when all this is taking place in my psyche, but I know my brain is still adjusting to life without being drowned in Jack Daniels – I need to ride this out and not give in to any of the intense urges that catalyze in my head during this time.  Between ninety days and six months is my most vulnerable time for relapse – and that’s exactly what stage I’m currently fighting through.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, however.  Much of the time I feel like I have lost it all, like I have nothing left to lose, and I’m going to die miserable and alone, but that’s not entirely accurate.  Don’t get me wrong, I have given up a lot in my pursuit of successful drinking, but not everything; many of which can be fixed with time and effort.  In essence, everything I have to gain is, in itself, everything I have to lose – if I pick myself up, dust myself off, and do what I know how to do to ensure I don’t lose everything I still have a chance to gain.